The American Athletic Conference is the best it has ever been. The Memphis Tigers, SMU Mustangs and UCF Knights are arguably the best the conference has to offer.
Any team that would have to play those three squads in consecutive weeks is in for a rough time. They are all excellent offensively, but their defenses do not get enough credit either. This stretch of games could set back a promising start to the season.
That’s what happened to the Temple Owls last night as UCF came into Philadelphia and made big play after big play in the 63-21 drubbing.
Otis Anderson rushed for 205 yards and a touchdown, and eight players scored the nine UCF touchdowns as the Knights scored 35 unanswered in the second half.
It gets worse for the Owls. They allowed 11 plays over 20 yards, six of them which went for scores. The Knights racked up 614 total yards on offense.
Temple got off to the perfect start on a eight-play, 70-yard drive that ended with Anthony Russo finding Randle Jones down the seam for a 32-yard touchdown.
But in typical UCF fashion, they responded quickly, tying the game up at seven on Jake Hescock’s 20-yard touchdown reception from Dillon Gabriel. The Knights scored in 91 seconds on the drive. That would be a trend on the night as six touchdown drives needed less time.
Adrian Killins, maybe the fastest player in college football, got to show off those wheels on the Knights third drive. Killins shot past the Owls defense on the first play of the drive for a 48-yard touchdown run. He did not play much after the score as Killins was spotted on the sidelines with his left arm in a sling.
The Owls next drive stalled and a great punt downed the ball at the 1-yard line. The Knights moved the ball in huge chunks to score once again. This drive took a minute, 50 seconds that was capped off by Darriel Mack six-yard touchdown run to make it a 21-7 game.
One of the few bright spots for Temple came on their second scoring drive midway through the second quarter. Russo threw a beautiful deep ball in stride to Branden Mack, who used a stiff arm to get past his defender on a 75-yard touchdown reception.
UCF answered with more points as Gabriel found Tre Nixon on a 28-yard touchdowncatch. This possession was their longest of the first half and it took a mere three minutes, 14 seconds.
It was 28-21 entering the half following Jager Gardner’s 1-yard touchdown run with 20 seconds to go. Temple capitalized on a Anderson muffed punt and it looked like it would be a ball game in the second half.
Whatever Josh Huepel adjustments made at halftime worked.
Aaron Robinson had two interceptions and UCF scored four touchdowns in the third quarter to run away with game. The Knights had their way with the Owls defense with scoring plays of 73, 34 and 37 yards to open the third quarter.
Temple got nothing going in the second half. They punted five times, Russo was picked off twice and turned the ball over downs. The Owls were limited to 45 yards rushing, compared to 385 for the Knights.
It was not what you expect from a Temple program that credits themselves on being Temple TUFF. It was a game with bad penalties, turnovers and a questionable effort once the game go out of reach.
The Knights will head back home to take on the Houston Cougars. The game will start at noon EST and can be seen on ESPN2.
Temple is on a short week and will travel to Tampa for a Thursday night matchup against USF. The game will be on ESPN and kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EST.